When I first read the readings I was wondering how in the world I was going to pull this homily together. I started to procrastinate; I started to prepare our Mass in a Box for today, I checked our minister schedule to see who was lecturing. I put the bottle of wine in the box and exchanged the white and gold altar furnishings for green. I checked our candles and made sure the candle holders were in the box.
And then, an image popped into my head. Ezra from the first reading was lectoring at a liturgy. He was standing on a wooden platform made for that purpose and was reading from the Law or the Torah. Then the Levites interpreted the Scripture for the people in what we would call a homily.
In the gospel we heard about Jesus who had returned to his hometown of Nazareth. He went to the synagogue and was handed a scroll to read. He lectored from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The thought came to me that, today, at our liturgy, right here, right now we have continued the tradition of our spiritual ancestors when our lector lectored from our sacred Scripture.
All of us from ancient times, through the middle ages, right up through we baby boomers have deemed it necessary and life giving to read Scripture in the midst of our gatherings. We are following a well-worn path, thousands of years in the making, of listening and figuring out how that Scripture speaks to us today.
Well, now, thoughts were flowing like crazy. My procrastination had stopped!
Jesus read and said in that synagogue “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” Then he said, “Today, the Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Now, people have interpreted this passage in that Jesus was announcing he was the messiah, he was who the people were waiting for. Well, ok. But think with me here. Jesus read “The Spirit of the Lord is up on me because he has anointed me.”
Who else in this room has been anointed? The answer is every single one of us. We were anointed with chrism at our baptism, and confirmation if we were confirmed.
We have been anointed just as Jesus was. No it doesn’t make us the messiah, but it does make us like Christ, it makes us part of the body of Christ as St. Paul wrote about. We were anointed to do the same things that Jesus was anointed for, to ring good news to the poor, to release the captives, to restore sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free. Who are those people? I think of the homeless, or the people from Mexico who are vilified for coming across the border so they can feed their families, those people who suffer in natural disasters, the elderly who have no family, just to name a few.
Let’s zero in even closer to home. What is this gospel saying to those of us at Holy Family this afternoon? We are going to share our soup supper in a little while, and yes we are satisfying our hunger, but more importantly we are getting to know one another. We are finding out who we are, what our gifts are. We have talked about knitting prayer shawls for people. I encourage all who want to knit or crochet to do the same in any pattern, in any color. Once they are finished we will bless them and have them on hand for anyone who would benefit from having this shawl, to wrap themselves up not only for warmth, but to know there is a community of people praying for them.
We have talked of getting a group together to read one of Bishop John Selby Spong’s books before he comes to speak in April. Bishop Spong looks at Christianity with an adult faith, not through the “straight jacket of religion” as he says. He isn’t afraid to challenge long held dogmas or doctrines. He doesn’t do this to be a pain in the neck, but so he can authentically experience God in himself and in his surroundings. That sounds like a pretty good thing.
We have a minister schedule now where those of you want to use your gifts to minister to our community as lector, choir member, usher, gift bearer, bread baker (I have the recipe) may do so.
We, we who are the body of Christ we who are Holy family are shaping the Church that we have prayed about and talked about and yearned for. We aren’t sitting back any longer to wait for someone to bring about that Church for us! We are leaving our footprints on that centuries old well-trod path for the Body of Christ to follow after us. Pretty exciting time, wouldn’t you say?